Batter’s Box: Manny Of Your Dreams

You’d have to imagine every MLB player—past, present and future—dreams about the feat Orioles 3B/SS Manny Machado was able to pull off Friday night with his three-HR outing that culminated...

You’d have to imagine every MLB player—past, present and future—dreams about the feat Orioles 3B/SS Manny Machado was able to pull off Friday night with his three-HR outing that culminated with a walk-off grand slam. With the robust aggregate stat line of 6-13, 3 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI, K, Machado now has reached 81 RBI and 26 homers after five weeks of a very strong second half. He’s been significantly better at Camden Yards all year long (.290 as compared to .249 away from home), but his average since the All-Star break is that much drastically better as he’s hit .345 with 34 RBI over the course of the last five weeks. This has obviously been a boon to his fantasy owners who had become understandably frustrated on his brutally slow start after drafting him in the first round. Just as Josh Donaldson has picked up the pace in a serious way lately, I believe the data shows Machado is once again the obvious set-and-forget 3B people had hoped he would be at some point this year. Despite his failure to replicate the rate of HR production of the past two years, the good news is Machado’s hard contact is registering at a career-high level of 39.8% currently, so enjoy what that brings you in the coming weeks as the fantasy playoffs approach.

Let’s have a look at what some other hitters around the league were up to this weekend:

Rougned Odor (2B, TEX) 3-12, 3 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K. This stat line is a pure power lover’s dream come true. Three hits, three dingers, plenty of RBI by not messing around with any stranding of runners. Odor is hitting homers at almost double the clip he did during the first half, and his current ISO splits of .246 versus a first-half .194 while also experiencing an even lower BABIP after the break supports the idea that he should continue mashing nicely for you as the season winds down. He has a .223 average, 60 RBI and 12 steals this year.

Mike Napoli (1B/DH, TEX) 5-12, 4 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, BB, 3 K. Another week in the books means, another week in which Napoli somehow does a desperate scissor kick to stay treading water right above the Mendoza Line. He had a couple of two-hit games over the weekend series with the White Sox that each included a homer, but I’m still going to be a nagger about the average despite 26 jacks on the year. There are 26 players who have hit more home runs than Napoli, all of them invariably with a better BA and more RBI than him. It just doesn’t make sense to leave yourself vulnerable in a category when power has been in such plentiful supply this year.

Nelson Cruz (OF/DH, SEA) 6-13, 5 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB, 2 K. Speaking of gentlemen who are plating a ton of runs, Cruz knocking four in at Tropicana Field this weekend saw him join Nolan Arenado in the exclusive 100-RBI club. They’ve been evenly distributed throughout the year, too—never fewer than 17 in a month, never more than 23—which is reassuring for the final stretch of the season. The .294 average is great, and even though Cruz could potentially snap his current streak of reaching the 40-HR mark in three straight campaigns, the fact that he’s at 31 at all right now is still super helpful and a top-10 total league-wide.

Eddie Rosario (OF, MIN) 6-13, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB, K. Rosario managing multiple hits in eight different games during August, as well as hitting safely in 10 straight now, has seen him inflate his batting average from .284 at the turn of the month to the .303 it’s at now. Sunday’s grand slam to really pummel Arizona further into the ground was a really nice touch by a guy who’s suddenly emerging as a bona fide second-half fantasy star. Rosario has 57 runs, 50 RBI and five steals to complement his 17 homers now. He had been batting fifth but happened to slot in at Minnesota’s 2-spot yesterday, which is worth keeping track of while he’s so hot.

Adam Frazier (2B/OF, PIT) 5-12, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB (IBB). Frazier has a six-game hit streak going, and he owns a solid .284 average on the season. Unfortunately, the home run he hit Saturday was just his fourth of the year and first of the second half, so you just cannot rely on Frazier for any power. That’s not a counting stat aberration that you might experience with a guy who just got called up and has only a small sample of hitting to look at: Frazier has 331 AB and has managed just 43 runs and 43 RBI as a utilityman for Pittsburgh. You may be surprised to learn he has eight SB, however. He’s probably just a fourth OF at best, and you have to make sure you’re accounting for HRs elsewhere if you deploy him.

Josh Bell (1B/OF, PIT) 3-11, 3 R, HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB. Bell has had an efficient and disciplined month of reaching base, as he’s been walked 11 times to just five strikeouts all while hitting .351 in August. Sunday’s homer was just the second of the month, but I’m liking the uptick in RBI of late. He’s gotten multiple hits seven times this month, and he’s shaping up to easily reach the 25-HR mark during his first full season as a big-leaguer. I can recommend using him as a backup 1B, corner infielder (1B/3B) or UTIL, since he’s going to provide production in every category but steals.

Jesus Aguilar (1B, MIL) 4-8, 5 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB. Aguilar took very kindly to the opportunity of hitting at Coors Field Saturday and Sunday, as he went yard three times in two contests at the Rockies’ expense. He’s having just an OK month at the dish, going .216 with nine RBI, so this offensive outburst definitely helped. He doesn’t have a starting job in Milwaukee with Eric Thames above him on the depth chart and newly-acquired Neil Walker available to cover 1B as well, but Aguilar is still very productive for a reserve player. Over 233 AB, I’ll take 14 bombs and 44 RBI with a .270 average for a backup at the position.

Francisco Lindor (SS, CLE) 5-15, R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 K, SB. Lindor swiped his ninth steal of the year Sunday against Kansas City and now has 20 homers to boot. He’s been acclimating quite well to batting leadoff for Cleveland lately, as opposed to how Jason Kipnis and Bradley Zimmer had been flagging atop the order throughout the course of July and early August. I’m appreciating how Lindor has kept his run and RBI counts relatively symmetrical despite the promotion to leadoff, with 66 and 58, respectively. He’s been perhaps a shade shy of top-3 type elite at the position, but Frankie is still a locked-in top-tier SS with his .266 average.

Shin-Soo Choo (OF/DH, TEX) 5-10, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2K, SB. Choo has gotten a bit more adventurous on the base paths in recent weeks, as he now has 11 swipes overall after stealing two successfully and getting caught once during August. He’s been either at leadoff or second, so it makes sense that his run count would outnumber his RBI total but both are competitive at 73 and 56, in that order. The downside for Choo comes primarily from his infrequent power and low slugging percentage, as he’s got just three homers since July 1st and 11 doubles in 2017. If you can get over that lack of XBH production, he definitely still has fourth-OF/UTIL value.

Andrew Todd-Smith

Journalistically trained and I have written for SB Nation. Fantasy baseball & football nerd, and there's a solid chance I'll outresearch you. I live in Columbus, pull for Cleveland and could learn to despise your team if you give me reason to. Navy veteran and wordplay addict with an expat background.

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